Delightful Brazilian microlots like this fruity and clean dry process from the Saldanha family in Paraná are an unfortunate rarity in the world. Brazil’s notoriety in the coffee growing world is more frequently associated with quantity rather than quality.
Established in the 1920s, Fazenda Califórnia was first owned and operated by New-Orleans-based coffee importers Leon & Israel, who focused the farm on productivity over premium quality. Nowadays, the farm is run by Luiz and Flavia Saldanha, who acquired the farm in 2004 and began renovations of both the land and the infrastructure. Both graduated from the Agriculture School at University of São Paulo, and both are certified arabica Q-graders.
Despite its low elevation and despite its location at the very southern edge of coffee’s viable range on the cusp of the Tropic of Capricorn, the farm has been a recent fixture at quality competitions and an example of exceptional processing. This particular lot is soaked in cold water for 24 hours immediately after harvest before the whole cherries are dried on raised beds as a natural. The process seems to have had the effect of sealing in the sweetest flavors from the fruit; the result is a ripe berry and grape-flavored coffee with nutty and chocolaty flavors reminiscent of classic southern Brazilian offerings without the earthy dryness. We’re very pleased to offer the coffee as a Crown Jewel this season as a bastion of our celebration of Brazil’s emergent quality-conscious microlots.
Despite the micro size of this lot of coffee, the physical grade matches much larger batches of high quality bulked Brazils: 17/18 screen size making up the vast majority. The coffee is well-dried with a very stable looking water activity. It’s density is about what you’d expect from a Brazilian coffee of high quality grown at low elevations, which is to say pretty average.
This lot is 100% Mundo Novo, a Brazilian hybrid that spontaneously crossed Bourbon and Typica in the field, first observed in 1943 in Sao Paulo state. Two separate selections were made for distribution, the most recent in 1977. It’s a tall tree with good yields, but its range is mostly confined to South America.
It has been a week of experimentation and teaching here at The Crown working with new roasting lab assistants. This week we analyzed two very different coffees; a washed coffee from Peru and a natural processed coffee from Brazil. While many natural and pulp-natural Brazilian coffees have a syrupy body, they can sometimes lack the intense fruitiness of natural processed coffees from other countries. This coffee has both, all the fruit and a heavy, syrupy body.
Knowing that we wanted to draw the roast out with a more gentle heat approach, our first roast turned the heat up to 3 gas just before yellowing with a minor reduction in heat just after to increase the overall roast time and a quick pop back up to 3 gas just before first crack. After first crack we watched our rate of change like a hawk and made several reductions so that we would reach 406F around one minute and a half. Roast two was similar at the start and even yellowed at the same time, but we delayed adding more heat until 3 minutes after yellowing which increased our overall roast time by one minute and fifteen seconds which took place mostly during the second stage of the roast.
On the cupping table roast one was very bright and intensely fruited, even tart. Roast two was more subdued with sugar browning notes being more dominant, yet still retaining some strawberry. Over all this coffee has quite the unique fruit character that the roaster can shape easily with different profiles. The coffee is also syrupy and has a lovely nutty chocolate base that would be excellent as a single origin espresso.
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
This Brazilian coffee, while divisive, is true to style for this area of the world. When I heard ‘Natural Brazil’ I came to the table expecting deep fruit and mellow nuttiness, and I wasn’t disappointed. To those of you who aren’t fruit-averse and want a coffee that can stand up to cream, this is a great choice.
I wanted to achieve at least 13% post crack development on this relatively dry coffee. I set out to roast this coffee at 100% power until 15 seconds after first crack, and did just that. This coffee cracked quite early at 10:05, and I engaged P3 (50% power) at 10:20. I allowed this coffee to develop further than any other roasts this session, and ‘dropped’ the batch at 11:25 – 1:20 after first crack. I used the automatic cooling program on the Behmor, with the door open.
On the cupping table, we got a lot more caramelized sugar notes than with the previous roasts on the Probatino. Brown sugar, hazelnut, and concord grape made a strong showing. If you’re looking for a comforting coffee with plenty of sweet jammy fruits, this Brazil won’t disappoint.